Description Painted on the shoulders of this mallet shaped vase in underglaze cobalt blue and copper red and brown is an archaistic and highly stylistic phoenix. The undefined feathery bodies are draped on the shoulders of the vase, some curling down towards the wide foot which is mounted with a European metal rim. Two phoenix heads emerge on the neck, holding rings between their beaks. The year 1683 during the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) marks the return of the Imperial production of porcelain and the reinstitution of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. A revival of imperial blue and white porcelain resulted in superbly crafted porcelains with well combined body, glaze, cobalt pigment, and skillful decoration. The revival also meant a return to traditional Chinese decorative styles of the Ming and Song dynasties. Blue and white porcelain was popularized in China by the Mongol emperors during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Trade along The Silk Road meant access to Middle Eastern imports, including Persian and Central Asian cobalt ore that facilitated the porcelain production from the 14th to the early 15th century. Domestic sources of cobalt ore, including the vibrant Buddha Head blue, replaced or were mixed with the expensive imported cobalt.
Provenance William T. or Henry Walters Collection, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Credit Acquired by William T. or Henry Walters
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